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When shown to Sotheby's in London, the drawing was immediately rejected, for no apparent reason. After further discussion, photographs of the drawing and the fingerprint were sent by Sotheby's to their 'expert' in Paris, whose identity Sotheby's refused to divulge at that time, it turned out that the anonymous 'expert' was none other than Picasso's daughter, Maya Picasso. Who according to knowledgeable sources at the Tate Gallery, "is not an expert in her father's work."
Maya responded immediately by asking Sotheby's to send her the original drawing for research. Sotheby's dispatched the drawing to her without consulting the owners for permission. It then took four months for its return and for Maya's three word response which simply stated, "...Not by Picasso" . No explanation was given and nothing was put in writing.
As far as we can tell Maya did not compare the fingerprint in the drawing with one known to belong to her father. She also refused to correspond further on the matter of authentication despite being presented with a range of evidence indicating the drawing's authenticity.
SPADEM, who until recently represented the copyright interests of the Picasso Estate, said in 1993, that, "Picasso's were not being authenticated because the committee which presided over such matters is closed." They had no idea whether it would reopen and could not say why it had closed.
Claude Picasso, the administrator of the Picasso Estate has repeatedly stated that the "drawing is not by Picasso" By evoking copyright control in 1993, he prohibited the continued publication of an illustrated report revealing the 1934 drawing's high level of correspondence with other Picassos. He also threatened the gravest consequences should the drawing ever be put on sale. He has also personally refused access to the collection of the Musée Picasso to search for a fingerprint comparison and sent a further letter containing another veiled threat concerning "the risks" should the drawing ever be put on the market.
John Richardson, the renowned Picasso biographer, and former director of Christie's in New York, claimed over and over that the drawing, " has nothing to do with Picasso". When asked why he showed no interest in the fingerprint, he evaded the question. When asked why for three years he had refused to correspond about the discovery, he said he had "been instructed by Claude Picasso not to put anything in writing or pronounce on the matter." He also revealed that the Picasso committee had been closed down under instructions from Claude Picasso.
The Picasso Museum in Paris have played cat and mouse over the issue of the fingerprint since 1992. They have showed no interest in locating a fingerprint comparison. The chief curator, justified her refusal to help in this matter by saying there are not enough staff at the museum to open cabinets or see to our request. On being approached recently regarding a search for fingerprints they insisted on us obtaining the Picasso Estate's permission. It is not at all clear why this should be necessary as the collection belongs to the French people as it was given to the State in lieu of death duties after Picasso's death.
Dr Peter Ludwig put his entire Picasso collection at my disposal in April 1994 in order to search for fingerprints and he advised me to make all the necessary arrangements with Dr Evelyn Weiss, the vice director of the collection at the Ludwig Museum in Cologne. In June, after initially not having a reply from Dr Weiss, she refused to allow the inspection of the Picasso collection to take place on the grounds that it would pose financial and technical problems. When I approached Dr Ludwig about her refusal to comply with his wishes, he stated that it was out of his hands. I later discovered that Dr Weiss has close connections with the Barcelona Picasso Museum, who, like the Paris Picasso Museum, are under the covert control of Claude Picasso and the Picasso Estate.
Christopher Green, a professor at the Courtauld Institute in London conceded that the drawing could be authentic and said the fingerprint would be the only way of knowing.
Robert Rosenblum, a Picasso scholar and professor at New York University, who is also a close friend of John Golding and John Richardson, wrote that the drawing, '... "looks slack and second hand' and he would probably side with John Richardson's view that even were the fingerprint to be Picasso's, the drawing would not be" He suggested it might be by the Spanish artist Bores or Picasso's mistress Françoise Gilot, working under the shadow of the master.' Strangely enough, Dr Rosenblum appears to have forgotten that in 1973 he wrote about Bertillon's system of fingerprinting to prevent forgery in an article concerning Picasso entitled, 'Picasso and the Typography of Cubism.'
Eberhard Fisch, a German Picasso scholar and author of, "Guernica by Picasso a Study of the Picture and its Context", said, "...the drawing is fascinating and there can be no doubt that it was executed by Picasso in 1934, " he listed a wide range of reasons for this conclusion and has since written an interpretation of the drawing placing it squarely in the context of Picasso's other work. He also said that it was "an excellent work of art and its discovery was of world wide interest."
Melvin Becraft, an American Picasso scholar and author of 'Picasso's Guernica Images within Images', stated that the drawing is a "...major discovery that will one day be recognised the world over". He has made an extensive study of the drawing which he compares to Guernica in terms of its importance. This study has resulted in a 58 page addendum to his book.
Eugenio Chicano, the director of the Picasso Foundation in Malaga, Spain, said he believes that the 1934 drawing could belong to Picasso and he stated a number of stylistic and other reasons for this opinion. In a series of very encouraging letters he described the drawing as 'amazing and mysterious, possibly a masterpiece,' he even tried to locate a fingerprint comparison, but when he learned that Claude Picasso was antagonistic toward the discovery, he discontinued correspondence and reversed his opinion.
David Douglas Duncan, the renowned photographer and former friend of Picasso, telephoned from his home in France in 1993 to say that the drawing was "typically Picasso," and that he "couldn't understand why Picasso ever let it out of his sight." He offered to help locate a fingerprint comparison but after corresponding with Angela Rosengart, a Swiss art dealer in communication with Pierre Daix, he went back on his opinion and stated that I "was in very deep water and had the whole art establishment ranged against me."
Francis Morris, an assistant curator of the Modern Collection at the Tate Gallery, said in a telephone conversation in April 1992, that "...nobody but Picasso could have done the drawing," she refused to put the Tate's opinion in writing and in regard to the drawing's authentication, she indicated that there were "sharks" in the artworld who would prevent it.
Victor Pasmore, the well known British artist, wrote in 1993, that "the 'Crucifixion' could be one of the series which Picasso made on this theme, based on the famous painting by Grünewald, because its image is extremely sensitive and original".
A number of leading historians and institutions have refused to comment, they include: Pierre Daix, Werner Spies, Lydia Gasman, Ellen Oppler, Josephina Alex, the Museu Picasso in Barcelona, the Centro del Arte Reina Sofia in Madrid (site of Guernica). In a similar way almost every Picasso dealer contacted has brushed the attribution aside or refused to respond.
© Mark Harris, 1997.
Next Section: Related Picassos
© Mark Harris 1996 (content), Simon Banton 1996 (design)
In general copyright of works by Pablo Picasso are the property of the heirs to the Pablo Picasso estate